Longtime poll worker helps open first day of early voting in Crittenden County

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CRITTENDEN COUNTY, Ark. — Monday was the first day of early voting in Arkansas, and Crittenden County officials opened an early voting location at the Marion Civic Center for the first time.

Frank Barton, Crittenden County’s elections commissioner, said things were running smoothly Monday with about 100 people per hour at each location, which is about four times more than they’ve seen in the past.

Roughly 2,100 people early voted at their two locations from 8 am to 6 p.m., about 6.6% of eligible voters, Barton said.

William Yen, 81, was part of the team making sure things kicked off correctly at 8 Monday morning in Marion. 

Yen, originally from China, became a poll worker in 1982. Decades later, he’s still doing it and has become a familiar face to voters. He said he keeps working out of a sense of “civic duty.”

“I have been to Walmart, Kroger stores, here in West Memphis and Memphis and people see me and say, ‘When are we going to have early voting?’” Yen said. “And so I tell them, it just feels good when people see you and ask you.”

Early voting started today in Crittenden County, Arkansas. This is 81-year-old William Yen. Originally from China he’s served as a poll worker in Crittenden County since 1982! He loves helping out his community and fulfilling what he calls his civic duty. @3onyourside 👏🏻🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/jFLLZce3H3— Shay Arthur (@ShayA_WREG3) October 19, 2020

Across the bridge in Shelby County, voters showed up in record numbers as early voting started last week. That continued this weekend.

“Saturday was considerably higher than any other Saturday we’ve ever seen. Saturday is normally a slow day for the election for early voting but it was not this Saturday.” said Shelby County elections administrator Linda Phillips.

Nationally, as there were reports of poll worker shortages, Yen had this message for why it’s important to offer up your time.

“I think people should volunteer because it really gives you a great feeling of accomplishment and people appreciate you helping them,” he said.

Yen says he plans to help out in the next election too.

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